Rating: PG-13 (for violence and some language)
Spoilers: None in this chapter
Chapter Length: 2347 words
Summary: Harry's latest case is uncomfortably familiar and starts him on another quixotic crusade. The only trouble is, how do you stop a killer when you're stuck baby-sitting?
Author's Notes: This was the first chapter I wrote, which tells you a little about my process and why I hardly ever finish long stories that I start. :p
After she'd finished her juice, I brought Graylin to the lab with me. I picked her up and set her down on the table to be at my level. She watched me move around the room, gathering what I needed and her legs swung restlessly to and fro off the edge of the table.
"Alright, I'm gonna do a little spell," I explained further, when I had what I needed. "That's gonna let me see what you saw last night. It won't hurt, but it make might you feel a bit dizzy. If you want me to stop, you just give me a kick, okay?"
"Hey, Bob?" I called. I added to Graylin, "Bob's a friend of mine."
There was a brief flash of light beside me as Bob manifested himself. Graylin gripped my sleeve in surprise. My mouth opened to explain to Graylin what was going on, but she beat me to the chase.
"Are you a ghost?" She asked him, curiously.
"Yes," Bob replied, with a prim nod. After a moment's hesitation, he asked, "Is that alright?"
"I think so." She released my sleeve.
"Good," I interrupted. "Graylin, Bob, Bob, Graylin. I'm gonna perform the Memoria spell, Bob. Can you spot me?"
"I can," Bob agreed, after a moment's consideration. He thankfully spared me the 'that is a dangerous spell, Harry' speech. "But what do you intend me to do if you go too far? I can hardly pull you back."
"I'm sure the sound of your dulcet tones will snap me right out of it," I said, with a smile.
He sniffed and I smirked to myself, then held up my prepared vial of Magic Goo (a technical term) to Graylin's nose.
"Smell this, please," I requested.
She wrinkled her nose, but gave it a good sniff. I did the same, inhaling the mixture of passion flower, thyme, yarrow and various other herbs that increased psychic ability and connection.
"I'm gonna take that back," I said, pointing to my pentacle necklace. "Is that cool?"
"S'cool," she agreed.
I switched it from around her neck to around mine and it was comforting to have it back there. I rubbed my hands together until they were hot and then placed them on her temples and looked her in the eyes. Her pupils were starting to dilate from the mixture now. I concentrated hard on them and breathed in and out slowly.
"Just relax," I coaxed Graylin, softly. "And try to remember what you were doing last night, before you went out in the alley. Here we go. I want you to take a deep breath, like you're gonna blow out candles on your birthday cake."
She inhaled and looked at me expectantly.
"Alright, blow them out," I commanded.
She did and with her breath came a puff of smoke. Wisps of memory. I inhaled the smoke and got a tingly sensation in the back of my brain as it adjusted to find a spot for the new memories to fit.
"Harry?" She questioned, nervously.
"It's okay," I soothed. "This is gonna look scary, but it's not. I'll be fine."
I dropped my hands from her head and stepped back from her. With another deep breath, I muttered some magic words and the pupils and irises of my eyes faded to white. I couldn't see that, of course, but that's what's supposed to happen. Bob muttered some words of reassurance to Graylin while I adjusted to the view. My image of the room faded away and was replaced with a busy kitchen. A myriad of delicious smells filled my nose, but in a background way. Obviously I was used to them, or Graylin was.
This spell is a tricky one. Memories are personal, intimate things. After you manage to transfer the memories to your own head, you become their owner for as long as you look at them. You think and feel what they thought and felt and you see the world the way they see it. If you stay too long, you can forget who you are and it gets harder and harder to come back. That's why I wanted Bob there, so he could bring me back if I started to go in too deep.
The kitchen was noisy, but not annoyingly so. There was a colouring book in front of me to which I was carefully adding blue with a marker. I looked up and over to the double doors as they swung open, and Tamsin entered. She was carrying a tray of dirty dishes in her crooked elbow and skillfully set it down on a counter, where it was set on by a man whose name, Graylin's memory informed me, was Jason. It also informed me that it was highly likely that Jason wanted to kiss Tamsin. She looked my way and smiled, holding up a finger to indicate a minute. I looked up at the clock, where the big hand was near the seven and the little hand was on the eight. Almost break time.
Tamsin was given another tray full of food and she left the kitchen again. The memory twitched a little here and jumped ahead by an unidentifiable amount of time. Memories are rarely retained in perfect condition. I'd moved from the little table to the door to the alley in an unnatural way. I, Harry, was disoriented by the fact that I, Graylin, saw the world at the level of my (Harry's) hips and I had to adjust. I was pressing the bar on the door, with Tamsin's hands helping. A blast of cool air hit me, which was nice after the heat of the kitchen. I skipped ahead of Tamsin and twirled in the cool air. The door closed behind us and the alley was quiet, just the two of us. This was my favourite time of day.
Alive, Tamsin was something else. She wasn't beautiful, but she was pretty in the all the right ways and her eyes had something nice to them, some sort of spark that made you want to look into them. She looked at me, or rather Graylin, with a mother's love that I vaguely remember seeing at one time. My mother died when I was young and my memories of her are worn.
The memory jumped again. Tamsin blurred out and then appeared in front of me. I was suddenly nervous, because she was, and I looked up the alley towards the street. There was a shadow moving quickly towards me and Tamsin's hand reached to the front pocket of her shirt, pulling out a long, elegant pen. 'The magic pen'.
"What's wrong?" I asked her, tugging on the belt of her jeans.
I was pushed back protectively behind her and she stepped forward towards the shadow. There was a flash of light from the shadow and I gasped in surprise. The flash hit Tamsin in the chest, but was deflected somehow. I'd never seen anyone else do what Tamsin could. I'd never met another wizard.
"Don't be stupid, Tamsin," the shadow said.
He was edging towards the light over the door now and becoming more clear. He had a long coat on and held something out in front of him. A knife with a fancy handle. I held onto Tamsin's belt in fear.
"Just go," Tamsin ordered in a firm voice. "You won't get what you want."
The shadow man was in the light now, fully. I could see his handsome face, which was set in a smirk. He held his arms out wide to the sides as he approached. A challenge for Tamsin to attack, a sign he didn't consider her a threat. He advanced and Tamsin started to retreat towards the back of the alley. I, still holding onto her belt, was forced to retreat with her. I was scared, but confident that Tamsin could make everything alright. She always did.
"I'm sick of these games," the shadow man said, in an almost pleasant voice. It had a deep resonance to it that made it sound warm, even if his face was cold. "I'm not playing anymore. Give me the girl and it'll all be over."
He easily pushed off the blast from Tamsin's pen, as though flicking away a bug. The next blast caught him off guard, however, and cut a long gash in his cheek. He cursed and any hint of charm fell from his face. He was cold now, frighteningly so. I started to whimper.
"Last chance, Tamsin," the shadow man warned again, no mercy left in his tone.
Tamsin's chin rose upwards defiantly, with all the ferociousness of a mother, and her pen started to spark. His knife did as well. Two balls of light collided in mid air and fought each other between them. Her golden light pressed back against his dark blue light, but his started to move towards her. Both wizards looked strained, both just as determined to win.
Magic can go funny when mixed with itself, like combining the wrong chemicals and finding your lab covered in green foam. The two bursts of light mixed the wrong way now and they refracted back. Both wizards were knocked backwards, hard. Tamsin hit the wall with a crack to her head and went down, unconscious. Her necklace fell beside her, the chain broken. I screamed and ran over to her, trying to shake her awake. When I couldn't, I ran for the door and pulled on it. It was heavy and took a lot of effort to get it to move on my own. It had only budged a few inches when it was slammed shut again and I whirled around to find the shadow with his knife pointed at it. He was in a heap of garbage bags and slowly rose, brushing himself off. He blocked the way to the street and the only way that I could move was back.
"C'mon Graylin," he coaxed. His voice had the warm tone to it again. It was made to be soothing and hypnotic. "Don't be scared, I don't want to hurt you."
"You're a liar!" I declared, in a 'duh' tone of voice. I wasn't that stupid. I backed towards the dead end, away from him.
"I'm not," he insisted.
Whatever else was exchanged between them wasn't shown to me as the memory jumped again. I was now pressed against the wall as closely as I could, while he was getting closer and closer. He was calm and collected, so very cold and terrifying. I could hardly breathe.
"Shhh," he hushed my whimpers, in a soothing way. "It's alright."
I might have believed him, his voice was that hypnotic. Except for the look in his dark grey eyes, that frigid determination. This was a very bad man. If he hadn't done anything to me, if I just saw him passing down the road, I still would have known that.
He outstretched his hand towards me and I shook. I closed my eyes and waited to be grabbed or hurt or whatever he wanted to do. Instead, I heard him hiss and I opened my eyes again to see him shaking his hand like he'd been burned. He reached again, but his hand bounced back and he hissed again.
"Shit!" he exclaimed, loudly. He was furious now. "Take off the necklace."
"Don't," Tamsin's voice called.
The man whirled around in surprise. I looked past him, somehow not as surprised to see Tamsin back on her feet with her pen held out in front of her. I saw an opportunity and darted around the shadow man, using his surprise to my advantage. I sprinted to Tamsin and threw my arms around her waist. She was shaking. I thought that she must be scared too. That was the most terrifying thing. Tamsin wasn't afraid of anything. Not thunderstorms or the dark or Mrs. Yannick's dog. Not anything.
"You don't ever take off that necklace, alright?" Tamsin whispered to me.
"Uh-huh," I agreed.
"You stupid bitch!" Shadowman growled, furiously. He seemed to transform with anger into some fiery demon. He grew older and uglier. And taller. "I don't have any patience left for you!"
He jabbed his knife at her and she jolted as if he'd stabbed her. She winced in pain and narrowed her eyes, sending a spell at him. It only knocked him back a few steps. He was too angry. She groaned and clutched her head. Her eyes turned milky white.
"Mommy!" I yelled at her. I turned to him, furious. "Stop it! Stop it!"
Tamsin seemed to be struggling with an unseen force. She twitched and groaned. She fell onto her knees, taking me with her. I scraped my knee hard on the ground. She pushed me away and I fought to keep a hold of her, yelling at her to stop. She fell onto her side and rolled onto her back. Her eyes stared blankly upwards and she simply stopped breathing. I shook her violently, but she didn't move.
"Harry!" The world split in front of me, scratching parts of the lab into it. "Harry!" Bob's voice.
I was on the floor. Bob was crouching by me, doing his best to get my attention.
"Harry!" He called very loudly, into my ear.
"Ow, I'm back, I'm back!" I said, wincing.
I was on my knees, where I would have been in the alley and I felt terrified. My hand shook where it hovered in mid-air, grasping at an invisible Tamsin in front of me. I'd begun to think of her as 'Mommy' near the end and I didn't know how long I'd been acting out the scene. I felt like I was going to throw up.
"Are you alright?" Bob asked, in a normal voice.
"No," I said. I looked up at Graylin, who looked about as scared as I felt.
"I'm sorry," she said, fearfully. "I made you sad. I'm sorry."
"Hey, no, it's not your fault," I quickly said, getting to my feet. My legs felt like rubber. "I'm sorry, sweetheart, I didn't mean to scare you."
"I'm not...I'm not scared," she insisted. But her hand reached out grasped my thumb tightly. She shook her head as though disagreeing with herself. "I'm very scared, Harry." Then, for the first time since I'd met her, she started to cry.